Jan 112019
 

The Eolo under sail at dusk. Called a bragozzo in Italian, the restored fishing vessel, built in 1946, is one of the last sailing ships of its kind that were designed to navigate the shallow lagoon waters during the era of the doges. Mauro Stoppa, a native Venetian and our host, has lovingly restored and adapted it for modern comforts. Photo: Paolo Spigariol

What: Slow food and slow travel in Veneto, Italy

Where: Culinary & cultural tour of Venice and its lagoon islands, and the Brenta Riviera

When: April 29-May 5, 2019—6 days, 7 nights.

Price: Euros 5,800. Price covers meals, overnight accommodations in first-rate inns and hotels, guides, cooking lessons and museum fees.

Hosts: Best-selling National Geographic author Julia della Croce and architect-photographer Nat Hoyt partnering with Venetian host, captain Mauro Stoppa.

Deadline for signing up: January 30, 2019

Reservations: info@cruisingvenice.com

Questions?: Contact julia@juliadellacroce.com

SPRING TOUR April 29-May 5, 2019 Itinerary

We have 4-8 spots left on our historic sailing vessel that will make an unforgettable tour of Venice and its lagoon’s lesser-known islands. From there, you will journey on with us to the Brenta Riviera for a land tour of the Renaissance world of Andrea Palladio, one of history’s greatest architects. See his opus, Villa Foscari, also known as “Malcontenta” and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Dine with a countess in her ancestral palace. Visit the medieval charms, art treasures, and famous markets of Padua. Enjoy superb local wines and the delicate cuisine of the provinces and be amazed at the cultural and gastronomic richness of the Veneto region. Boats and traditional means of transport make for a unique journey in one of Italy’s most historically, culturally and gastronomically rich regions. This is a variation of our original tour of Venice and the lagoon islands (that will be offered once again, September 12-18).

On board the Eolo with Mauro Stoppa. Photo copyright Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2017,

We begin onboard the Eolo and sail on the tranquil waters of the lagoon westward into the bucolic Brenta canal and the Renaissance world of one of history’s greatest architects, Andrea Palladio and that of his contemporaries. On the Veneto mainland, our crew will transfer us onto smaller traditional boats built to navigate the narrow, shallow canals of the ancient Venetian waterways just as the Venetians once did. Along the way, we’ll explore everything from the magnificent villas of the 16th, 17th, and 18th century merchant classes to the ancient cities and villages of art and culture along the Brenta, the natural extension of the Grand Canal. We’ll be reliving the extraordinary experience of noble families leaving Venice to spend the summers in the countryside during the Serenissima’s gilded age, and also discover the ancient world of ordinary Venetians. We conclude with a return to Venice proper. This is a unique exploration of Venice and its environs not offered anywhere else. Our past guests have said that traveling with us on the Eolo was the experience of a lifetime.

You’ll travel to the Venice of past times on board the Eolo, Mauro Stoppa’s restored traditional sailing vessel that plies the Venetian lagoon and its ancient waterways. Offering a unique experience of Venice not found elsewhere, Stoppa and his able crew will draw you into life in Venice and its region as it has been lived by Venetians for centuries.

  • Sail lost Venice and its lagoon islands for immersion in the private world unknown to most outsiders, that of the native islanders—fishermen, artisans, tradesmen, sailors, farmers, and vintners.
  • Travel through a unique ecosystem of small canals, shallow waters and sandbanks to the channel flowing into the Brenta Riviera and be immersed in an extraordinary and unspoiled natural world along the way, stopping to visit fishermen’s huts or ancient monasteries, visiting the most important Palladian villas, dining at the table of a Venetian countess in her palace, tasting the authentic cuisine of common people and noble Venetians alike.
  • Be guided by the locals who take pride in the rituals of their traditional life and will welcome you into their worlds and share the details of how they live and work.
  • Journey the breathtaking Brenta Riviera and see its famous villas, gardens, and artistic treasures executed by masters including Giotto, Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo, Donatello,Veronese, and Tintoretto.
  • With our local guide, tour Padova (Padua in English), the crown jewel of the region’s splendid Medieval and Renaissance cities.
  • End your journey in Venice proper for an overnight in a newly restored, palatial apartment overlooking a lazy canal in the charming San Polo district where you can sightsee with our Venetian guide, shop, or, if you like, just ramble the backstreets of Venice beyond the city’s most famous sights on your own.

Photo: Mark Cowan

Day 1 (Includes dinner and overnight)

MEET ON THE PARK ISLAND OF CERTOSA, A 40-MINUTE VAPORETTO RIDE FROM THE VENICE AIRPORT

—Group meets Julia and Nat at the Venice Certosa Hotel on the tiny island of Certosa, once the site of a monastery, now a park, marina, and sole hotel. Check in at 3 p.m.

—Group dinner at 7 p.m.

—Overnight here.

Our guests on the Eolo, September, 2017. Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales/To Italy With Julia, 2017

Day 2 (Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight)

CROSS THE LAGOON, STOP AT SAN LAZZARO DEGLI ARMENI ISLAND; HEAD FOR THE MAINLAND; TRAVERSE THE CANAL BY TRADITIONAL BOATS CALLED CAORLINE, DINNER AT THE PRIVATE VILLA OF  COUNTESS ENRICA ROCCA

—Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Mauro comes for us dockside on the Eolo. The crew will make you feel at home on deck, serving fresh local fruit, snacks and coffee prepared in the galley.

Back on board and a little snack from the galley—the local white, wild asparagus, and tasty crab morsels to suck on. Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales/To Italy With Julia, 2017

—Sail to the tiny monastery island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni. Like many of the lagoon islands, it has been used in various ways over the centuries. A quarantine site for ships and their passengers before they were permitted to disembark in Venice during the years of the Black Plague, it eventually became a monastery for Armenian monks in the 18th century and a place of study and eventually, a publishing center and important library that is still in use.  https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Lazzaro_degli_Armeni

—Disembark and meet our local guide for a tour of the abbey and the island while Mauro and the crew prepare a delicious lunch in the galley of genuine Venetian dishes sourced from local ingredients.

—Lunch al fresco, in the open air, on deck. Superb local wines served with every course.

—Shove off from the lagoon for the Brenta Riviera, gliding the gentle curves of the canals on the Eolo until we pass the last lock. At this point, guests will transfer to a convoy of smaller vessels called caorline, traditional Venetian row boats designed to navigate the narrow and shallow waterways manned by their prideful owners who, if you ask them, have plenty of tales to tell about their beloved river. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caorlina

Boatmen rowing their caorline, traditional Venetian crafts on the Brenta canal. Photo credit: Mauro Stoppa 2018

—Disembark at the spectacular Villa Foscari, better known as “La Malcontenta.” Mirrored in the waters of the Brenta, it is considered the most fascinating of the numerous 16th century country palaces designed by the legendary architect Andrea Palladio for wealthy Venetian merchants. Guided tour of the estate. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Foscari

Villa Foscari, courtesy UNESCO.

—Re-board the caorline for an opulent riverside relais et chateaux, the 17th century Palladian villa Franceschi, former residence of the Doge’s jewelers. It comes into view in all its splendor at a bend in the canal, skirted by acres of forested parkland. According to tradition, all the villa’s balconies and terraces from which we will eat superb Venetian cuisine “al fresco,” in the open, should face the breathtaking panorama.  http://www.villafranceschi.com/en/ https:// and  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Pisani,_Stra

—Dinner prepared by Mauro Stoppa and the Eolo’s crew will be served in another, nearby private villa owned by Countess Enrica Rocca.

—Overnight at Villa Franceschi.

 

Day 3 (Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight)

VENETIAN VILLAS, UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES, A RESTORED ANCIENT GRANARY, A BEAUTIFUL FISHERY, DINNER AT THE VILLA OF COUNTESS ROCCA

—Transfer by van to Villa Pisani at Strà on the Brenta Riviera that links Venice to Padua. The most famous of Veneto’s villas, Villa Pisani, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, is considered the most spectacular for its classical grandeur and allegorical frescoes by Giambattista and Domenico Tieplo and other Renaissance masters. Guided visit of the villa and its gardens. http://www.villapisani.beniculturali.it

Villa Pisani, view from the reflecting pond. Photo credit: Rafaela Pagani, 2014

—Embark on the caorline for the Molini di Dolo, perfectly restored ancient mills for grinding corn and grains that were the staples of the Venetians.  http://www.rivieradelbrenta.biz/ristoranti_riviera_del_brenta/i_mulini_del_dolo.htm

—Lunch at a typical restaurant near the mills at Villa Goetzen.

—Board the caorline again for the dramatic 17th century Villa Valmarana. http://www.villavalmarana.net/

—Return to Villa Franceschi by caorline, or on foot along the breathtaking paths on the properties, if you prefer.

—Once again, dinner will be prepared by Mauro Stoppa and his crew at the villa of Countess  Rocca.

 

Day 4 (Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight)

PADOVA EXCURSION AND A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE, DINNER AT THE PRIVATE VILLA OF COUNTESS EMO

Padua at night. Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales/To Italy with Julia, 2018

—Transfer by van to Padova/Padua, a dazzling tapestry of medieval marketplaces, Renaissance architecture, and early 20th century facades. Home to the second oldest university in Italy where Galileo taught and patrons of the powerful Scrovegni family sponsored Giotto’s famous works.

—Guided visit of Giotto’s Cappella degli Scrovegni, Scrovegni Chapel, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, an extraordinary example of 15th century art and the most comprehensive collection of preserved frescoes painted by Giotto (1303-1305).

Kiss of Judas, one of the panels in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padova, by Giotto di Bondone, 1304-1306. Courtesy: Cappella degli Scrovegni

—Lunch in a typical restaurant in the historic center of Padova/Padua.

—Visit Palazzo della Ragione and the Prato della Valle piazza. Built between 1218 and 1308, the Palazzo was the government center of Padua. The interior is designed to simulate an upside down wooden boat, symbolizing the intimate relationship between the city and its waterways. The nearby Prato della Valle piazza is considered one of Europe’s most significant.

—Transfer by van to the villa residence of Countess Emo in Monselice nestled in the Euganean Hills for a dinner prepared by Mauro Stoppa and the Eolo crew. Overnight in the villa.

 

Day 5 (Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight)

UNIQUE BAROQUE GARDENS, VISIT TO THE EUGANEAN HILLS, TRANSFER TO VENICE

—Transfer by van to the nearby gardens at Valzanzibio, designated by UNESCO as the first Italian baroque garden, known for its allegorical themes and unique botanical labyrinths. https://www.valsanzibiogiardino.it

—Lunch at a restaurant in the charming medieval village of Arquà Petrarca, home to the last house of the fourteenth century poet, Petrarch and considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. www.arquapetrarca.com

Arquà Petrarca. Photo credit: Alain Rouiller, Wikicommons

—Guided visit of the Cataio castle. http://www.castellodelcatajo.it/

—Transfer to Venice by van and water taxi.

—Free evening in Venice. Overnight in spacious apartments in the newly renovated Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri overlooking a lazy canal in the charming San Polo district.

Our accommodations in Venice. Photo: Compliments of Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri

Day 6 (Includes lunch, dinner, and overnight)

Farewell dinner at the storied Trattoria Antiche Carampane. Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales/To Italy With Julia, 2018

VENICE AND FAREWELL DINNER

—Guided visit to Venice’s artisan rowers guild (forcole). Onto seeing an example of the ancient printing press system (Venice was once an important publishing center).

—Lunch in a typical bacaro, eatery specializing in small plates.

—Free afternoon.

—Farewell  dinner at the legendary and colorful restaurant Antiche Carampane near the Rialto bridge, once a government-designated retirement home for ladies of the night that inhabited the neighborhood.

Day 7 (Includes hotel breakfast)

FINAL DAY

Photo: Mark Cowan

—Depart Venice, or extend your stay the palazzo if you wish, and we will arrange for your reservations at your own cost.

Rates and Particulars:

  • 6,200 Euros per person including the last night (7 nights) or 5,800 Euros for 6 nights for accommodations as detailed, breakfasts, lunches and dinners as described, private visits as per itinerary, all entrance fees, cooking lessons during our journey at your discretion, the service of your tour guide(s). Rates based on double occupancy; 20% more for single occupancy.
  • 10% deposit upon reservation, refunded if the minimum of 6 guests is not reached.
  • 40% upon confirmation, the balance 30 days before departure.
  • Minimum 6 guests. Maximum, 10 guests.

Not Included

  • Flights, travel insurance, items of personal expenditure (e.g. telephone calls, laundry etc.), discretionary gratuities to boatmen and guides, government levies or taxes introduced after publication of this program (September 7, 2018).
  • Please note that if circumstances beyond our control necessitate some alteration to the itinerary shown, you will be notified of any such changes as soon as possible.

Contact: For more information and reservations: Write to Mauro Stoppa at the following email address info@cruisingvenice.com or email me with any questions you might have.

 

 

 

May 282018
 

John Ruskin once described this watery city as a ‘ghost upon the sands of the sea, so weak—so quiet–so bereft of all but her loveliness’…. [153 years] later, he would be more likely to compare this packed tourist magnet to a shopping mall during the sales season than to a shadowy mirage…. But Ruskin’s Venice still exists…. Sitting on a historic fishing boat on a recent July evening, with the sun setting over the island of Torcello and the sound of the gull cries splitting the silence of the seemingly endless lagoon, a visitor might even get a sense of what the Victorian thinker was going on about….”—Elisabetta Povoledo, International Herald Tribune

So said the Italian journalist who has been writing about Italy for The New York Times and its affiliates for a quarter century, covering everything from Italian governments to popes to Rome’s feral cats. She knows that our culinary and cultural cruise on a traditional Venetian boat is the real thing—an exploration of insider’s hidden city and its archipelago, its natural and cultural life. Venice and its lagoon islands were proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, yet few travelers ever see it. Its shallow waters must be navigated by flat-bottom boat built for the labyrinth of 200 canals and 180 islands by sailors who know its networks intimately. The Eolo, a 52-foot traditional restored bragozzo, fishing vessel, is such a boat and our Venetian host Mauro Stoppa is such a sailor.

Raising the Eolo’s sail on the Venetian lagoon.

One of our passengers lends a hand with the day’s delivery.

If you think you’ve already seen Venice, think again. Have you watched a cloud of flamingoes drift over a lagoon as clear as glass? Have you found your way to the island where the quarantine was invented in the 16th century, resulting in the salvation of Venice’s population during the plague? Have you lunched on board a historic sailing vessel at anchor, eating deliciously prepared sea bass delivered boat-side by the fishermen—so fresh, it tastes like it just leapt into your plate?

Or violet artichokes grown on an island nearby, a Byzantine cathedral as a backdrop? Have you ever had a cooking lesson in a ship’s galley from Venetian cooks who show you how to prepare authentic local delicacies? Have you visited the workshop of Venetian craftsmen whose forebears have been weaving exquisite fabrics that have clothed royalty and potentates for four centuries? Have you walked the backstreets and alleys of Venice with its colorful local life and floating vegetable markets? Do you know the authentic Venetian restaurants where the locals go to dine? Come with us, we’ll take you there. With one crew member for every two guests, you will sail in comfort and ease, helping to raise and lower the sails, if you like. With native guides at every stop, you’ll see not only the most famous sights, but also be drawn into a very private Venice that exists behind the spectacle.

Our guests learn to cook Venetian fare in the galley.

We’re now taking reservations for up to ten guests for our September 15-21 sail. Each time we tour, we make a new plan: chart a course for an island our guests haven’t seen before, choose another of Venice’s charming historic inns, vary the menu based on the catch of the day and the harvest of the season, or plot a different route on our walking tours. Find the day-by-day details and overall itinerary here:

2018 VENICE BY BOAT

Culinary Sailing Cruises of Venice and its Lagoon

June 2-8 and September 15-21, 2018

Itinerary

Day 1 — Meet on the island of Certosa at 3 p.m. (time to be confirmed once we know each person’s travel details). Transfer by private water taxi to Mazzorbo and the Venissa Hotel, a former convent and wine estate on its own bucolic island, top-rated by The New York Times, Michelin, and Travel + Leisure. After settling into our rooms, meet our native Buranese guide for a walking tour of Mazzorbo and Burano, two enchanting islands joined together by a pedestrian bridge. Overnight and a splendid dinner at the Venissa.

A magical first night at the Venissa inn and restaurant on Mazzorbo.

Day 2 — After breakfast, Mauro guides the Eolo to the front door of the Venissa and we board. Our first stop is the National Archeological Museum of Altino on the site of the original settlement of Venice. Private tour of the museum, a repository of relics and artifacts related to the history of Venice and its lagoon. Return to the Eolo for lunch, followed by a visit and guided tour of the island of Torcello, where subsequent foundations of Venice were laid 1,000 years ago. Reboard and shove off for Cavallino and the historic Locanda alle Porte 1632 inn and restaurant, once Venice’s customs house. Dinner in a private, typical “bilancia” or “trabuch,” a historic fisherman’s hut suspended over the water. The seafood served is the owner’s catch of the day. Overnight at the locanda.

Enter the warm and welcoming Locanda alle Porte 1632.

Day 3 — After breakfast, board the Eolo and head for the southern lagoon and the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo, where all ships, their cargo and passengers were quarantined during the times of the bubonic plague before being permitted entry to the main island of Venice. Guided tour by archeologists working on the excavation. Our next stop is Mazzorbo, a charming village on the Lido. Settle into our hotel accommodations at Ca’ Alberti, a restored 14th century villa. Meet for dinner at a typical trattoria near our hotel.

The chief archeologist at Lazaretto Nuovo explains the island’s strange history.

Day 4 — Breakfast at Ca’ Alberti, then reboard the Eolo. Sail for the island of Valle Zappa, a unique wildlife sanctuary and the site of a spectacular villa in the Austrian style. From here we are privy to the most beautiful views of the lagoon. Guided visit followed by lunch at anchor. Transfer by private water taxi to Venice proper at about 5 p.m. Arrive at our accommodations at Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri, a beautifully renovated historic palace overlooking a colorful piazza near the famous Rialto pedestrian bridge and market. Explore Venice and eat dinner on your own.

Our host and galley cook, Mauro Stoppa, serves freshly caught roasted sea bass for lunch.

Days 5-7 — Remain in Venice proper. Breakfast before Laura Sabbadin, our native guide, collects us for unique walking tours of the famous sites, fascinating backstreets, and hidden treasures unknown to most tourists.

At the historic Bevilacqua weaver with our native guide, Laura Sabbadin.

Day 6 — Farewell dinner in Venice with Mauro, Julia and all guests.

Veni etiam, come again!

Day 7 —Breakfast at our hotel and guest departures from there.

Arrivederci, Venezia, a presto—see you again soon.

Rates and Particulars:

  • 4,600 Euros per person including accommodations as detailed, breakfasts, lunches and dinners as described, private visits as per itinerary, all entrance fees, cooking lessons on board the Eolo at your discretion, the service of your tour guide(s). Rates based on double occupancy; 20% more for single occupancy.
  • 10% deposit upon reservation, refunded if the minimum of 6 guests is not reached.
  • 40% upon confirmation, the balance 30 days before departure.
  • Minimum 6 guests. Maximum, 10 guests.

Not Included

  • Flights, travel insurance, items of personal expenditure (e.g. telephone calls, laundry etc.), discretionary gratuities to boatmen and guides, government levies or taxes introduced after publication of this program (May 27, 2018).
  • Please note that if circumstances beyond our control necessitate some alteration to the itinerary shown, you will be notified of any such changes as soon as possible.

Contact: For more information and reservations: Write to Mauro Stoppa at the following email address info@cruisingvenice.com or email me with any questions you might have.

On the Eolo’s autumn cruise with Mauro.

Photographs copyright Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2018

 

May 072018
 
For the Ultimate Roast Chicken, Go French!

Dear Hungry Reader, Because so many of you have written to me to ask for stories and recipes that were first published in the now defunct Zester Daily (sadly gone the way of so many other high quality food publications), I’ll be posting them here. Subscribe to my blog (on this page, upper right) if you haven’t already and little by little, they’ll all come your way. Sincerely, Julia You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken. So wrote Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was a bold statement, but it reflected a certain […more…]

May 012017
 
Forget About Pasta, Pizza, and Smiles: Meet La Nuova Cucina Italiana

Back in the day when nouvelle cuisine was firing up the new chefs of Europe, I wrote in the introduction to my first cookbook, published in 1986, that Italy, a country that has complained about the excesses of French cooking since the 16th century, would never succumb to it. Take, as an example, the words of Gerolamo Zanetti, a 16th century Venetian, which are still uttered by modern Italians: French cooks have ruined Venetian stomachs with so [many] sauces, broths, extracts… in every dish… meat and fish transformed to such a point that they are scarcely recognizable by the time they get to the […more…]

Dec 312016
 
For New Year's Morning Cheers, Zabaione alla Veneziana

This is a shortie, but it occurred to me to pass this festive little recipe along to you all for ushering in the first day of 2017. It’s from my Venetian friend Mauro Stoppa, host and skipper of the Eolo, who learned it from a local contessa and well-known cooking teacher, Fulvia Sesani. He serves this liquorous treat on board when the weather is nippy, and of course, during the winter holidays. You could say that zabaione is Italy’s answer to eggnog (which some etymologists place in the Middle Ages), except that its origins go back at least as far as the late Roman period, to […more…]

Dec 302016
 
For New Year's: Lentils and Sausages for Luck and Plenty

Lentils and pork sausages, the first to represent coins, the second for abundance, served up together, has long been considered an auspicious dish with which to usher in the New Year in some parts of Italy. Take Modena’s lenticchie di Capodanno, braised lentils crowned with zampone, a delicate mixture of finely ground pork subtly seasoned with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and black pepper stuffed into a pig’s trotter; or cotechino, a similar sausage, sans the trotter. One or the other is obligatory eating when the clock strikes midnight everywhere north of Rome—sumptuous eating, but not easily reproduced outside of Modena […more…]

Aug 252016
 
A Meal to Meditate: Spaghetti all'amatriciana

The quake struck Amatrice and the surrounding area at 3:36 a.m. — amazingly, almost the exact same time as the one that devastated L’Aquila and Abruzzi in 2009, which killed over 300. Some of the dead, this time, were tourists. Travelers go to Amatrice in August for the mild climate, an evening stroll and spaghetti all’amatriciana — a dish famous all over the world, invented by local shepherds in the Middle Ages. This week, the town was getting ready for the 50th annual festival dedicated to the celebrated sauce. Luckily, most visitors had left for the night. But the Hotel […more…]

Aug 232016
 
Italy's Sweetest Little Salsa: "Exploded Tomatoes"

I’ve had a stellar crop of cherry tomatoes this year and they’re ripening on the vine faster than I can pick them, never mind eat them. Time for one of Italy’s sweetest little tomato sauces —pomodorini scoppiati, literally, “exploded cherry tomatoes.” The recipe and story just out in Zester Daily today, here.  

Aug 192016
 
Consider Venice's Golden Cookies

Zaletti are one of Venice’s favorite biscotti. Made with the region’s favorite grain, corn polenta, and often served with a fruit sauce for dipping, you could call them Venice-in-a-cookie. My ever curious friend, James Beard award winning author, chef, and master baker Greg Patent was intrigued when I told him that I like to have them for breakfast alongside a cup of cappuccino. So he made them and wrote up the recipe with step-by-step photos for his terrific blog, The Baking Wizard, here. Their name comes from the Venetian word for yellow, “zalo.” Ground corn, or polenta, substitutes for wheat throughout […more…]